A Harold Ramis Film
Warner Bros. Presents, In Association
With Village Roadshow Pictures
and NPV Entertainment
A Baltimore/Spring Creek Pictures/
Paul Vitti (ROBERT DE NIRO) is one of New York's most powerful gangsters. He's grown up in the Mob life and has been well prepared for his future responsibilities by Manetta, his mentor and surrogate father (since his own father was gunned down years before). But when it becomes time for Paul Vitti to assume his role as the leader of his crime family, he suddenly starts having trouble breathing. He can't sleep; he's distant and preoccupied around his wife and kids; his mistress wants to know why his interest in romance has flagged; and his loyal henchmen wonder at his suddenly anxious demeanor.
If the other crime families find out that Paul Vitti is having panic attacks, then how can he run his business? He's supposed to inspire panic, not experience it.
Ben Sobol (BILLY CRYSTAL) is a divorced suburban New York psychiatrist with a young son (KYLE SAHIBY) and a fiancée (LISA KUDROW) he's about to marry. He's a nice guy and a loving dad who's plagued by his relationship with his own father, a highly successful, media-seeking, pretentious Upper East Side therapist. Ben doesn't want to be anything like either of his self-absorbed parents - even if shunning the spotlight means enduring a patient list full of dull, boringly neurotic complainers without a serious challenge among them.
As a result, Ben's life is pretty ordinary - until he rear-ends a car in traffic. Not just any car, but a car driven by Jelly (JOSEPH VITERELLI), Paul Vitti's bodyguard.
Naturally, Vitti's people don't care about insurance reports. But when Ben Sobol presses his business card into Jelly's hand, a relationship is born. Not between driver and driver - instead, it's between doctor and patient.
Paul Vitti confides to his henchman that he's considering finding a therapist, and the ever-loyal Jelly offers his boss Ben Sobol's card. Vitti immediately seeks out the only shrink he's ever heard of - Ben Sobol - and demands that Ben cure his panic attacks. Immediately. Completely. Before the impending crime-family meeting, at which Vitti will have to face the other Mob leaders and demonstrate that he has what it takes to be a Don.
Ben wants no part of this. He's looking forward to a quiet wedding and a peaceful family life, that suburban nirvana that has always eluded him. But something inside of him is fascinated - this is the most exciting case he's ever encountered. Could he handle it?
What kind of mental-health advice do you give a guy who solves his problems with a gun and a sack of cement?